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squadron leader or wing commander Sachin Tendulkar ?

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New Delhi, April 30: The Indian Air Force is considering a move to confer the honorary rank of either squadron leader or wing commander on master batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

Defence sources confirmed to this newspaper that the move was at a “very preliminary stage” and that any formal proposal moved by the IAF would have to be placed before the ministry of defence (MoD) for approval.

When asked by this newspaper about the move, the response of the usually-outspoken Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, was a polite “No comment”. It is understood that the IAF is keen on conferring the honour on the cricket legend after permission is granted by the government and the requisite formalities are completed.

As per the rules, honorary rank in the Indian armed forces can be granted to both “Indian or non-Indian nationals who have rendered service of a high order to the Indian Union and who have rendered signal service to any of the armed forces, or who have taken a special interest in fostering the development of any of the armed forces”.

Government rules state that “the recipient should be granted such rank as is befitting to his (or her) status, position and age”.

Sachin Tendulkar turned 37 a few days ago and has completed 20 years in international cricket. He made his cricket debut for India against Pakistan in December 1989.

Sources said the rank of either “squadron leader” or “wing commander” would possibly be “appropriate” for Sachin. An IAF officer attains the rank of squadron leader after six years in service and wing commander after 13 years of service.

Several years ago, for inst-ance, the Indian Air Force had conferred the honorary rank of air commodore on aviation enthusiast, world record-holder and industrialist Vijaypat Singhania.

More recently, in 2008, the Indian Army had conferred the rank of lieutenant-colo-nel on former cricketer Kapil Dev after his commissioning into the Territorial Army.

According to official procedure, for such a grant the IAF headquarters will need to forward the recommendation for honorary rank along with the remarks of the IAF chief to the MoD. After due scrutiny by the MoD, and subject to appro-val by the defence minister, the proposal will have to be sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). It is only after approval is granted by the PMO that the proposal may be sent for the final approval of the President of India, the Supreme Commander of the armed forces.

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